I’d like to preface this review by saying that City of Evil to this day is my favorite album of all time. When listening to The Stage, it’s hard not to compare it to Avenged Sevenfold’s past work because of the metamorphosis the band’s sound has undergone, arguably one of the biggest changes one can find in a current rock/metal band of their calibre. That being said, I found The Stage to be a refreshing return to A7X’s writing style that teetered on experimental while retaining the hookie quality that leaves you humming riffs and vocal melodies long after the album has stopped playing.
The title track is a beast and somewhat reminiscent of the way that “Nightmare” harnessed the most “Avenged Sevenfold” of qualities with the perfect blend of eerie with an epic Halloween tonal odyssey. As the album progresses, there’s an element of creativity that has re-emerged. I don’t say that to necessarily undermine what was achieved with the writing of Hail To The King but I would say that songs like “Sunny Disposition” approach song writing like a journey or the telling of a story that no one has heard before, which is why I found the lyric “No one likes cheap wine” as very fitting. It’s so true! When I first heard the brass instrumentation of this song, I fist-pumped the air like a coach when the team scores a touchdown for the lead. It was a great feeling.
Other key things to note are that the drumming and lead guitar writing are top shelf. Arin Ilejay’s departure, while saddening, was greatly resolved. The transitions seem to have pulled from the Rev’s influence (RIP) while adding its own flare, not to mention the general additional percussion. It’s pretty perfect. Gates’ leading guitar writing did not disappoint either. He’s always had an incredible talent for writing melodic lines, while interesting never overplaying the vocal performance. As I write that, I’m listening to the acoustic guitar bridge of “God Damn”. It reminds me of the goose-bumps I first got when I heard “Sidewinder” from City of Evil.
Lastly, the general up-tempo nature of this album brings back the punk elements I fell in love with back in the days of Waking the Fallen. Real classy, guys. Double high fives all-round.
The Stage Track Listing:
01. The Stage
03. Sunny Disposition
04. God Damn
05. Creating God
09. Roman Sky
10. Fermi Paradox
Run Time: 73:35
Release Date: October 28, 2016
Check out the track “The Stage”